Summer Drinks on a Budget

For me, one of the best things about summer are the long days where you can relax on the beach with a cocktail in hand. However, no one wants cocktail hour to turn into hours when, before you know it, you are waking up all sunburned at 8pm alone without your friends. And we all know what I’m talking about. We’ve all decided to take a beach stroll in the late afternoon and passed a few lone stragglers who are asleep and red as a lobster with beer cans littered around their chair.

I have vivid memories seeped into my mind of my mother shaking her head as we passed such sleeping strangers on the beach, and vowed I would not be one of them. I would stay classy, yet still fun. Is it possible to be classy, fun, and cheap on the beach? Why yes! The perfect solution is a wine spritzer, which, as a bonus, just about every fitness magazine would tout as its summer beverage of choice due to its low caloric content. Spritzer you say? As it turns out, this is the perfect beverage to disguise a very cheap bottle of wine.

Summer beveragesOne of my first experiences with spritzer occurred when my mother was in town visiting. I’m not sure if a reggae bar was what she had in mind when she agreed to go out with us after a nice meal, but I’m pretty sure she was questioning my life choices when the bartender told her that their wine options consisted of “white, red, or pink” gesturing to boxes of wine stacked in the fridge.

Ever creative, my mother didn’t skip a beat and said, “Ok, why don’t you give me half a glass of the pink wine and top the rest with club soda and a lime.”

“You know, that actually sounds good,” the bartender responded. And I have to agree. My friends and I quickly followed suit.

So, when I was at the beach this past weekend celebrating the Engaged Grad Student’s upcoming nuptials, I knew just what beverage to suggest for our evening cocktail hour on the beach. Something fun, something light, and something that would allow us to save room for a nice meal out later. And, as my mother demonstrated, one of the best parts about a wine spritzer is that you don’t even need a nice bottle of wine for it. For our drink of choice I chose a cheaper bottle of pinot grigio (about $6, but any wine will do), a bottle of sparkling water, a lime, and some raspberries for a garnish, because hey, we were on vacation, so we decided to splurge a little. The drink surpassed all expectations, and everyone agreed this beverage was the perfect end to a day at the beach!

White Wine Spritzer Recap:

1 bottle of white wine: $6

1 bottle of sparling water: $1

Lime: $.69

Total: $7.69/ $1.54 per person

Interesting Budget Tips for Vacationing

Yes, before you say anything, it has been a long time since our latest post. Have we given up on budgeting? Of course not! Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean we can take a vacation from our budgets, but wouldn’t that be a perfect world?

My absence from the blog can be attributed to two factors:

  1. I was on a vacation. Mr. Practical and I took our belated honeymoon in Croatia, for which I suffered many a tofu dinner. (In case you’ve forgotten-this has been my short-term savings goal for the past year). Was the saving worth it? Absolutely. Did we splurge? Yes, but reasonably. (I’ll share some tips below).
  2. Mr. Practical and I have moved from New Orleans to Kansas City. In Mr. Practical’s words, “This is a long-term short notice move.” We found out while we were traveling, and it has been a whirl wind to say the least. Once we returned to the States we had exactly two weeks to pack up, find a new place to live, and say goodbye to all of our wonderful friends, so blogging wasn’t exactly at the top of my to do list.

Vacation Budget TipsWhile I may be a little less of a newlywed, I am unfortunately still ever as indulgent, and our Single Shopper is still reigning in Nola as we speak, so between her and me, we got you covered.

As I mentioned above Mr. Practical and I did splurge on our trip. It was our honeymoon after all. Yet, we didn’t go crazy. Below are some of my tips to stretch those vacation dollars as much as possible so you don’t go broke once you get home.

Plan Your “Splurge Meals” Before You Leave- Trying the local cuisine is one of my favorite things about traveling, so we definitely wanted to eat out while we were on vacation. However, while we didn’t want to waste a single meal on bad restaurants during our trip, we also didn’t want to blow the bank every night.  Trip Advisor and restaurant reviews became my best friend before the trip. I got as many recommendations for restaurants as possible, and then picked one “splurge worthy” place in each city we went, making sure to make a reservation before we left. Since Mr. Practical doesn’t like too much structure on trips, we still had wiggle room for the other nights, but we knew in advance where we wanted to spend the most money.

Avoid ATM Fees: I detest ATM fees, but on vacations, especially in exotic locales, it is sometimes unavoidable, and before you know it you have been charged an extra $3-$6 per transaction. That $25 you were charged for your five ATM visits could have gone towards another meal out. So what do you do? Do you take out all the money you think you need before you travel and risk it being stolen? No! Do you take out as much cash as possible every time you visit the ATM? No! Instead get a Fidelity ATM card, which reimburses you for ALL ATM fees, anywhere in the world. The Secret Saver told me about this, and I didn’t believe her, but I opened an account online, and she was correct. There isn’t any fee for opening an online account, there’s no minimum balance, and I was not charged a single ATM fee while I was traveling abroad. Plus, I didn’t have to worry about taking out too little money or foregoing a souvenir I was dying to buy.

Avoid Foreign Transaction Fees: Just like the ATM fees, the foreign transaction fees charged by your credit cards can also add up. However, shortly before our trip American Express waived all foreign transaction fees, which meant we were able to use our American Express guilt free.

Between the American Express and Fidelity Debit card, Mr. Practical and I were covered. When restaurants or stores didn’t accept American Express we would just pop out to take out some cash. This worked out particularly well on our last night when I saw a necklace I had to have as a souvenir. Mr. Practical wasn’t as thrilled as me when he saw it, and when the store didn’t accept American Express, I thought that was the end. But, oh wait, an ATM was just around the corner. Fidelity to the rescue! Mr. Practical kindly obliged to withdraw some cash after I promised him the necklace would be his birthday present to me (my birthday is in May FYI). And while he did take an exceptionally long time to get the cash, which he later admitted was purposefully to give me more time to really mull over my purchase, I most likely would have lost the battle if it weren’t for Fidelity.

Enjoying guilt free wine on a budget friendly holiday.